The Daily Iowan

Kirk Ferentz Speaks at Kids Day

Fans got to see the Iowa football team one last time on Saturday before the season opener against Northern Illinois on Sept. 1.

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Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks at a press conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena during Iowa Football Media Day on Friday, August 10, 2018. Iowa will open the 2018 football season at home against Northern Illinois on Saturday, September 1.

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks at a press conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena during Iowa Football Media Day on Friday, August 10, 2018. Iowa will open the 2018 football season at home against Northern Illinois on Saturday, September 1.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks at a press conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena during Iowa Football Media Day on Friday, August 10, 2018. Iowa will open the 2018 football season at home against Northern Illinois on Saturday, September 1.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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With the season-opener rapidly approaching, there was a lot to take in at Kids’ Day at Kinnick on Aug. 11, as Iowa held its final open practice of summer/fall camp.

Football is just three weeks away, and the Hawkeyes are starting to get their depth chart hammered out, but that continually changes, which was evident on Aug. 11.

Trey Creamer was listed as the backup left cornerback behind Matt Hankins, but true freshman Julius Brents appeared to be on the rise, taking second-team reps opposite Josh Turner.

Fellow true freshman Tyler Linderbaum has also worked his way into some playing time on the defensive line.

“It gives everybody an opportunity, and that’s worth a lot also,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “When younger guys get in with the 2s or the 1s, they seem to learn faster. There’s a little bit of flow to it, not that it’s perfect. I think those guys have done a good job … It’s a good chance to see what they do and how they react.”

While the starters in the secondary seem to be set, barring injury, the linebacker group cannot say the same. Amani Jones and Nick Niemann have essentially secured their starting spots in the middle and outside, respectively, but there is still competition at weak-side linebacker.

Kristian Welch is listed as the starter on the preseason depth chart, while Barrington Wade (who did not suit up) was the backup, but Ferentz said there is a competition among numerous players, including Djimon Colbert and Jack Hockaday. True freshman Seth Benson also received some time with the starters at linebacker.

Even though Benson might not get the starting nod in his first season as a Hawkeye, he could make his way into the two-deep by the season’s end and potentially play on special teams.

“With Barrington being out, he’s gotten some work, and he’s looked pretty impressive,” Ferentz said. “I don’t know if he’s doing the right thing, but he just seems to be around the ball all the time, so to me, that’s a good thing if you’re a defensive guy.”

When the first team took the field for the scrimmage portion of the practice, the offense looked like a cohesive unit through the air and on the ground. The progression in the air attack is clear after last summer’s camp, when Iowa only had one wide receiver catch a pass in a Hawkeye uniform.

This season, though, Iowa feels comfortable with Nick Easley, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Brandon Smith, and Kyle Groeneweg. Easley, Smith-Marsette, and Smith have all recorded a reception now, and the coaches have been impressed with Groeneweg’s flashes.

While Ferentz and the staff hope more people join the trusted group, the Hawkeyes are miles ahead of where they were at this point last year.

“Compared with a year ago, if you want to talk about a dramatic difference from Kids’ Day a year ago, it was pretty much nonexistent,” Ferentz said. “I think those are four guys who at least are going to go out, and run full-speed routes, and try to go get the ball, and all that kind of stuff. There are plenty of opportunities for other guys to jump in and join the group.”

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